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Jimmy Herring: Lifeboat

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Jimmy Herring isn’t cut from the same cloth as most guitarists. He’s understated and soft-spoken, yet his playing has spoken volumes with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jazz is Dead, Frogwings, the Dead, Project Z and Widespread Panic. Herring’s recording career spans 20 years, but it’s telling that Lifeboat is the first solo outing by the underrated guitarist, who can play with the flash of any fusion hero-but also knows when not to.

That’s the theme of Lifeboat, even though Herring brings in several past bandmates who’ve equaled his firepower. Hampton’s incendiary ARU band also featured bassist Oteil Burbridge and drummer Jeff Sipe, who propel the opening “Scapegoat Blues.” Keyboardist Matt Slocum and Codetalkers’ guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers also contribute to the disc’s most fusion-fueled piece, which alternates between 4/4 and 6/8 time.

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